Last night, I had the honor of being elected as Chair of the James W. Cooper Fellows Program of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, after serving for a year as Vice-Chair and Chairperson of the Fellows Education & Program Committee.
The Fellows are comprised of outstanding Connecticut lawyers, judges, and teachers of law; the Fellows put on a variety of programs during the year including symposia, roundtable discussions and mentoring programs for high school students.
At the annual dinner, I sat next to and talked with the Keynote Speaker for the evening, Teresa Younger, who is currently President & CEO of the Ms. Foundation — the Foundation started by icon Gloria Steinem.
Those of you with memories here in Connecticut may remember that she was Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and Executive Director of the CT Chapter of the ACLU, before leaving to go to the Ms. Foundation.
I’ve met her several times — each time, I’m left with just awe at her accomplishments and, more importantly, by her wisdom and insights.
During her prepared remarks, Ms. Younger had a lot to say about the #metoo and #timesup movements in ways that I think many employers can take notice of.
Among them was her reminder to all of us that the movement isn’t just about stopping harassment in the workplace.
Rather, it’s designed to listen to voices that haven’t yet had the seat at the table, or who have been too timid to speak up thus far.
She highlighted a ABC News report and conversation recently about the shifting views in the workplace and that even among women, there are differences based on age.
As one of the participants in that ABC News conversation said:
From this conversation, I recognized that not everyone feels comfortable and assured in their position to speak up and voice concerns when they experience inappropriate behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Recognizing this, I encourage people experiencing any form of what they interpret as inappropriate behavior not to feel intimidated and talk with a colleague or a supervisor whom they trust and ensure that there is support if they decide to take next steps.
The workplace continues to shift and evolve. It’s up to all of us to be cognizant of this and adjust our expectations and actions accordingly.
My thanks to Ms. Younger for providing a valuable insight at last night’s CBF meeting.